From the start, one consolation for voters who oppose Donald Trump has been the ineptness of his party. Despite holding both chambers of Congress and the Oval Office, the Republicans have repeatedly gathered around the launch pad of legislative hopes only to watch their initiatives explode in a flurry of fire and sparks. Obamacare still stands. The wall with Mexico remains a pipe dream. No sweeping infrastructure improvements are underway. Yada yada yada.
But in a single arena, Team Trump and his Army of Conservatives (not a bad band name, I might note) are displaying dazzling efficiency: the courts. Aided by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a passel of right-wing advisers, the administration is pushing judges into jobs at breakneck speed.
The biggest target is the U.S. Courts of Appeal. These courts, while less headline-grabbing than the Supreme Court, handle many, many, many more cases and their influence is immense. So Republicans are shoving hard-core conservatives into those courts relentlessly; young judges who could shape legal proceedings and affect legislation for decades – even when Republicans don’t hold as much power as they do now.
Sure, the White House is encountering some trouble. For example, a few of the president’s nominees have been roundly dissed by the American Bar Association as too inexperienced to hold federal judgeships. (Pro tip: It would be good to have handled some trials as a lawyer first…) One was notably cited for being way too much of an advocate for conservative causes and “gratuitously rude.” (Again, with the band names!)
But to the dread of Democrats who can do almost nothing to stop this, most of the president’s other nominees are competent, intelligent and reasonably experienced; meaning once they are confirmed to these lifetime jobs, they will likely prove effective enforcers of conservative principles – having a genuine impact on the laws and regulations that govern our lives. Amid all the noise over Russia, tax reform and inappropriate liaisons with teenagers, this is not getting a lot of attention. But make no mistake: More than anything else that has happened since Donald Trump took office, this could make a real difference – for a real long time.